A freighter ran aground in the Suez Canal and has since blocked the important shipping route between Asia and Europe. The Egyptian Suez Canal Authority announced that eight tugs were in use to free the stuck ship. The incident is due to poor visibility after a sand storm.
Pictures on social media showed that the freighter had turned sideways. According to the ship radar services vesselfinder.com and marinetraffic, traffic jams from container ships formed both north and south of the canal.
The incident occurred on Tuesday, said the shipping and logistics company GAC on its website. There was a power failure on board the freighter. According to the ship radar services, it is the freighter Ever Given. According to vesselfinder.com, it is 400 meters long and 59 meters wide. The ship, built in 2018, is sailing under the Panamanian flag, it came from China and is on its way to Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
It was initially unclear when the shipping route could be opened again. The Suez Canal is a waterway that connects the Mediterranean with the Red Sea. It is therefore an important sea connection and trade route between Asia and Europe.
Even for experienced seafarers, it is not easy to steer a 400-meter-long steel giant through the narrow shipping channel in currents and crosswinds. The desert wind can sweep the canal here at a stormy 40 or 50 knots per hour.
There are not many ways around the Suez Canal in shipping – at least not for an oil tanker from Saudi Arabia or Iraq that is heading for Europe or the USA on a tight schedule. The canal shortens the sea route from Europe to India by around 7,000 kilometers, and the detour via the Cape of Good Hope could soon cost a ship three more weeks at 16 knots (around 30 kilometers per hour). That is important in tightly-timed world trade. In 2018, 18,000 ships passed through the Suez Canal, an average of around 50 a day. In the past, the US Energy Administration also spoke of a “critical bottleneck” for trading in oil, gas and petroleum products.